The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
● AZ-Sen: Marist has good news for Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona's Senate race, where their first poll of the contests finds her leading all three of her prospective Republican rivals. Their survey has Sinema up 49-38 over Rep. Martha McSally, 48-38 over former state Sen. Kelli Ward, and 57-32 over former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Every poll released this year has found Sinema ahead, and these latest numbers are very similar to a recent YouGov poll where Sinema's smallest lead was an 8-point margin over both McSally and Ward.
In the Aug. 28 Republican primary, Marist has McSally ahead by a slim 30-28 over Ward, while Arpaio takes 21. That's considerably better for Ward than a recent poll from GOP firm Data Orbital, which had McSally up 38-23, with Arpaio at 17.
● FL-Sen: Marist's first poll of Florida's Senate race has Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson ahead by 49-45 over Republican Gov. Rick Scott. This survey is the latest in a long line of polls that have seen each candidate trading narrow leads.
● MO-Sen: Senate Majority PAC's latest ad attacks Republican Josh Hawley over his ties to GOP megadonor David Humphries. They accuse him of returning political favors for Humphries after the latter gave $3 million to Hawley's 2016 campaign for state attorney general, arguing that Hawley "refused to investigate" Humphries over his business selling "faulty roof shingles" to churches and homeowners.
● OH-Sen, OH-Gov: Marist also released their first poll in Ohio, where they find Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown winning re-election by 51-38 against Republican Rep. Jim Renacci. This is the third independent poll this month to show Brown up by double digits; Quinnipiac recently had Brown up 51-34, and Suffolk had him ahead by 53-37.
Democrats don't fare quite so well in the gubernatorial contest, and Marist's survey shows Republican Mike DeWine beating Democrat Richard Cordray 46-42. By contrast, Quinnipiac and Suffolk had Cordray in first by 42-40 and 43-36, respectively.
● PA-Sen, PA-Gov: Suffolk has published their first poll of Pennsylvania's fall races, and they find that Democrats are in the driver's seat. Democratic Sen. Bob Casey leads GOP Rep. Lou Barletta by 47-32, which is in line with prior surveys this year showing Casey ahead by a commanding margin. Suffolk also has Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf up by 49-36 over Republican Scott Wagner; all other polls this year have similarly found Wolf leading by at least double digits.
● AK-Gov: Alaska Survey Research has conducted a poll of a hypothetical general election on behalf of the Alaska Correctional Officers Association, and it finds the GOP in a strong but not insurmountable position. Their survey gives Republican former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy a 38-33 edge over former Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, with independent Gov. Bill Walker in a distant third with 23 percent.
This is the first poll we've seen of any general election matchup after Begich surprisingly joined the race earlier this month. As we’ve written before, it’s going to be very tough for either Begich or Walker to win in what’s usually a reliably red state as long as they’re both in the contest. However, if Walker continues to look dead in the water like he does in this poll, his supporters could end up flocking to Begich to stop the eventual Republican nominee from winning.
● FL-Gov: Marist has tested each party's primary for governor in their inaugural 2018 Florida poll. On the Republican side, state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam beats Rep. Ron DeSantis by 38-21, which is consistent with other recent surveys. On the Democratic side, they have former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine up 19-17 over former Rep. Gwen Graham, while Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum earns 8; neither businessman Chris King nor billionaire Jeff Greene tops 4 percent.
However, King's campaign released a David Binder Research poll that shows him taking 11 percent to argue his support is growing. However, that still leaves him in third, since the poll has Graham up 21-20 over Levine. Regardless, with so many voters undecided, the nomination still looks up for grabs with two months until the primary.
● NV-Gov: The Koch-aligned Freedom Partners has launched a $1.5 million buy to air two TV ads (here and here) in Nevada's open gubernatorial race. Their first spot praises Republican Adam Laxalt for supposedly cutting waste and inefficiency in government.
The second accuses Democrat Steve Sisolak of corruption by implying he doled out government contracts in exchange for campaign donations. The ad relies on a Nevada Independent story from February that reported Sisolak had received $660,000 in campaign contributions during, or immediately before or after, county commission meetings, including one instance where a paving company secured a $1.9 million contract and gave Sisolak a $10,000 contribution the next day. Left out of the ad is the fact that the company submitted the lowest of three bids and that the vote of the seven-member commission was unanimous.
● FL-26: We now have a copy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's recent ad on behalf of Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, which they're spending $350,000 to air. The spot praises him for standing up for DREAMers and supporting immigration reform.
● MI-09: Former state Rep. Ellen Lipton has begun airing her first TV ad ahead of the August Democratic primary. The spot begins with Lipton showing one of the routine injections she has had to make to treat her case of multiple sclerosis over the last two decades. She promises to stand up to Trump and fight to ensure those with pre-existing conditions can get the care they need.
● NJ-03: Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur has released a minute-long TV ad that features a man named Joe commending the congressman for coming to his assistance when his wife faced the prospect of wrongfully being deported.
● NJ-11: Monmouth has unveiled the results of their first poll of New Jersey's 11th District, and they find Democrat Mikie Sherrill beating Republican Jay Webber under all of their three various models of the electorate. Using their "potential voters" model, Sherrill's lead is 40-38; under the "standard midterm" it's 44-40; and the "Democratic surge" model has it at 45-39. This district backed Trump by 49-48, but Daily Kos Elections rates the contest as Lean Democratic.
● OH-12: Republican Troy Balderson is out with his first TV ad for the August special general election. The spot touts the work he has done in the legislature to combat human trafficking.
● WA-03: Political science professor Carolyn Long is out with a poll from Lake Research Partners giving GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler a modest 42-37 lead in a hypothetical general election. Back in March, Long released a Lake poll that found Herrera Beutler ahead by a stronger 49-29 margin.
This southern Washington seat moved from 50-48 Romney to 50-43 Trump, and neither national party is acting like it’s in play. However, Long has raised more money than most of Herrera Beutler's past foes, and she ended March with a $167,000 war chest. But Long needs to first get past businessman and fellow Democrat David McDevitt in the Aug. 7 top-two primary first. McDevitt ran in 2016 and took just 10 percent in the primary, but this time, he amassed a $406,000 war chest thanks mostly to self-funding.
● House: The Democratic group House Majority PAC has launched a $3 million digital buy targeting 12 different House seats. One of their spots hits the GOP for supporting an "age tax" on seniors, and the other argues the Republican tax bill will make most Americans pay more while the deficit rises.
● MD-Sen: Chelsea Manning, the former Army soldier who was convicted of giving hundreds of thousands of classified military reports to the site Wikileaks, attracted national attention when she launched her primary bid against Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin in January, but she never looked to be a credible threat. And sure enough, Manning's notoriety didn't get her more than 6 percent of the vote. Cardin won with 80 percent, and he faces no serious opposition in November.
● UT-Sen: Mitt Romney, a son of former Michigan First Lady and unsuccessful 1970 Wolverine State Senate nominee Lenore Romney, beat state Rep. Mike Kennedy 71-29.
The younger Romney, an uncle of defeated Colorado gubernatorial candidate Doug Robinson, actually lost the April state party convention to Kennedy 51-49. However, we noted at the time that convention delegates are considerably more extreme and anti-establishment than the Utah GOP primary electorate, and this result just underscores it. While Romney lost his 1994 bid for a Massachusetts Senate seat to Ted Kennedy, we rate his 2018 bid for a Utah Senate seat as Safe Republican.
● CO-Gov: Rep. Jared Polis defeated former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy 45-25 to claim the Democratic nod, while state Treasurer Walker Stapleton beat wealthy former state Rep. Victor Mitchell 48-30 on the GOP side. This sets up a very expensive contest between Polis, who has already self-funded $11 million, and Stapleton, a well-connected second cousin of George W. Bush. If Polis wins, he would be the first openly-gay person to be elected governor of any state.
Colorado leans slightly toward Team Blue, and outgoing Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has been relatively well-liked over his two terms. However, it's too soon to say if these factors, plus the favorable political environment, will give Polis the edge after 12 years of Democratic governors in what's still a competitive state. Daily Kos Elections rates the general election as a Tossup.
● MD-Gov: Former NAACP president Ben Jealous defeated Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker 40-29 in the Democratic primary to face GOP Gov. Larry Hogan. Baker had the support of much of the state party establishment, including Sen. Chris Van Hollen and former Gov. Martin O'Malley, while Jealous had Bernie Sanders and some influential unions on his side. While most pols found the two locked in a very tight race, Jealous and his allies decisively outspent Baker. If Jealous wins, he'd be the state's first black governor.
Maryland is usually a reliably blue state, and Hogan's 2014 victory was only Team Red's second in over 40 years. However, Hogan has posted very high approval ratings, and most polls showed him with double-digit leads against all the Democratic primary candidates, including Jealous. We'll see if things change now that the crowded primary is over and Democrats know who their candidate is. Daily Kos Elections rates the general election as Lean Republican.
● OK-Gov: As we anticipated all cycle, the GOP primary to succeed unpopular departing Gov. Mary Fallin won't be settled until the Aug. 28 runoff. Former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett took first place with 29 percent of the vote, while wealthy mortgage company founder Kevin Stitt edged Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, who appeared to be the frontrunner through most of the race, 24.4-23.9 for the second runoff spot.
Stitt narrowly outraised Cornett, who served for 14 years as mayor of the state’s largest city, $2 million to $1.9 million during the campaign. However, the businessman gave his campaign another $2.2 million, and if he’s willing and able to keep self-funding, he could decisively outspend Cornett over the next two months.
On the Democratic side, former Attorney General Drew Edmondson beat underfunded former state Sen. Connie Johnson 61-39. Oklahoma is a very conservative state, but Team Blue hopes that Fallin's unpopularity will sink whomever the GOP nominates in August. Daily Kos Elections rates this as Likely Republican.
● SC-Gov: Gov. Henry McMaster defeated wealthy businessman John Warren 53.6-46.4 in the GOP primary runoff. McMaster led Warren 42-28 in the first round two weeks ago, and while Warren picked up endorsements from most of the defeated candidates, the challenger had very little time to assemble a winning coalition. It didn't help that McMaster and his allies decisively outspent him in the short runoff campaign, and that both Donald Trump and Mike Pence campaigned for the governor in the final days of the race.
McMaster will face state Rep. John Smith, who earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart in Afghanistan, in the general. South Carolina is usually a reliably red state, but Democrats hope that a long-running corruption investigation that's snared several powerful Republicans close to McMaster will trip up the governor. Daily Kos Elections rates this as Likely Republican.
● CO-01: While Rep. Diana DeGette's colleagues in New York City had plenty of problems in their Democratic primaries, the longtime Denver representative decisively turned back a well-funded challenge from attorney Saira Rao 71-29. This seat is safely blue at 69-23 Clinton.
● CO-02: Former Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Executive Director Joe Neguse decisively beat former Boulder County party head Mark Williams 66-34 in the Democratic primary for this open Boulder-area seat. Neguse, who lost a tight race for secretary of state in 2014, was the front-runner for this very blue seat pretty much from the moment that Rep. Jared Polis announced he would run for governor. This 56-35 Clinton seat is safely blue, and Neguse is set to become the first Eritrean-American member of Congress, as well as Colorado's first black member of Congress.
● CO-03: Former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush defeated attorney Karl Hanlon 64-28 in the Democratic primary to face GOP Rep. Scott Tipton. This western seat went from 52-46 Romney to 52-40 Trump, and Tipton has turned back serious Democratic attempts to beat him before. Daily Kos Elections rates this as Likely Republican.
● CO-05: GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn defeated El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, who was Team Red's 2016 Senate nominee, 53-20 in this safely red Colorado Springs seat; state Sen. Owen Hill took another 18 percent. While Lamborn didn't come close to losing on Tuesday (though he had to go to court to make the ballot), this isn't the first time that a significant portion of primary voters have voted against him. If Lamborn attracts just one credible primary foe in a future cycle instead of the two he had on Tuesday, he could have much more trouble.
● CO-06: Retired Army Ranger Jason Crow, who was the choice of the state and national Democratic establishment, beat clean energy expert Levi Tillemann, who most assuredly was not, 66-34. Crow will now take on GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, who has won some very expensive races in a suburban Denver seat that moved from 52-47 Obama to 50-41 Clinton.
Both candidates are strong fundraisers, and outside groups are planning to spend huge amounts here. On the GOP side, the Congressional Leadership Fund and NRCC have reserved a total of $4.1 million in fall TV time in the Denver media market, while House Majority PAC has invested $1.8 million. Daily Kos Elections rates this as a Tossup.
● MD-06: When you play the Game of Trones, you win or you run for a neighboring seat and spend more money. There is no middle ground. David Trone, the co-founder of the liquor store giant Total Wine & More, won the Democratic nomination to succeed outgoing Rep. John Delaney by a 40-31 margin against Del. Aruna Miller. Trone gave his campaign $11.5 million, so even adjusting for inflation, he spent more of his own money on a House race than any candidate in American history but one. That candidate was… David Trone, who spent $13.4 million in 2016 in the neighboring 8th District and lost the primary 34-27 to now-Rep. Jamie Raskin.
Trone will now face former Army official Amie Hoeber, who lost to Delaney 56-40 last cycle. This seat backed Clinton 55-40, and while Delaney had a shockingly close call during the 2014 GOP wave, we doubt Trone will have much to worry about in the fall in this political climate.
● MS-03: Michael Guest, who serves as district attorney for Rankin and Madison counties, defeated Baptist Health Foundation President Whit Hughes 65-35 in the GOP primary runoff for this safely red seat. Guest took 45 percent of the vote in the crowded June 5 primary to Hughes' 22, so it would have been a huge surprise if he'd lost.
● NY-01: Wealthy businessman Perry Gershon beat former Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning 36-30 in the Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin. This eastern Long Island seat swung from 50-49 Obama to 55-42 Trump, and Zeldin won his second term 58-42 last cycle.
Gershon raised $771,000 from donors after a little less than a year on the campaign trail and self-funded another $1.3 million, so he shouldn't lack resources. However, Gershon only changed his voter registration from Manhattan to his summer home in the Hamptons around the time that he was preparing to enter the race, which could be a liability. Zeldin is also a strong fundraiser. Daily Kos Elections rates this contest as Likely Republican.
● NY-02: Consultant and activist Liuba Grechen Shirley defeated Suffolk County Legislator and 2016 nominee DuWayne Gregory 58-42 in the Democratic primary to face GOP Rep. Peter King. This central Long Island seat went from 52-47 Obama to 53-44 Trump, and even if it swings back, King will be very tough to dislodge. While the incumbent is quite conservative by his own admission, he's managed to carve out a reputation as a security-obsessed loudmouth who knows when to break with his party and support local interests.
Daily Kos Elections rates this contest as Safe Republican, but it may be worth keeping an eye on. Grechen Shirley raised $462,000 from the end of 2017 through early June, and she picked up an endorsement from EMILY's List in the final days of the contest. However, King had a $3 million war chest at his disposal if he feels threatened.
● NY-09: Rep. Yvette Clarke ended up beating community organizer Adem Bunkeddeko just 52-48 in this safely blue Brooklyn seat. Bunkeddeko emphasized the need for affordable housing, a very potent issue in this area, and he argued that Clarke had no major accomplishments in Congress. Clarke even admitted she didn't take her challenger seriously: After Bunkeddeko declared at a debate that he "understand[s] that Ms. Clarke is upset by the fact that she has a competitive primary," she interrupted, "Upset? I'm laughing!" We expect she'll find her 2020 campaign a bit less funny.
● NY-11: Rep. Dan Donovan won a bitter GOP primary for this Staten Island-based seat by an unexpectedly wide 64-36 against his immediate predecessor, former Rep. Mike Grimm. Grimm, who resigned after getting indicted on tax evasion charges (which led to the special election in which Donovan succeeded him), argued that the incumbent had failed to support the White House. However, while Grimm had spent his career building up a Trump-like cult of personality by portraying the Obama Justice Department as out to get him, Trump backed Donovan and declared that Grimm would cost the GOP this seat if he were the nominee.
This district backed Obama 52-47 after Hurricane Sandy hit the area hard before Trump won it 54-44 four years later. National Democrats are excited about Army veteran Max Rose, a strong fundraiser who won his primary 65-19. However, it's not going to be easy to pry a seat on Trump-friendly Staten Island away from the GOP even in a strong Democratic year. Daily Kos Elections rates this as Lean Republican.
● NY-12: Longtime Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney won renomination 59-41 against attorney and hotel executive Suraj Patel in a safely blue seat that is centered around Manhattan's affluent Upper East Side. Patel outspent Maloney by quite a bit, though he attracted some unflattering headlines during the race. But while Maloney fared better in her primary than fellow New York City Democrats Yvette Clarke and especially Joe Crowley, she could be much more vulnerable in a future cycle after this underwhelming win.
● NY-16: Unlike some of his colleagues, Rep. Eliot Engel had little trouble in his Democratic primary. Engel beat wealthy businessman Jonathan Lewis, who self-funded his campaign $656,000, 74-16 in this safely blue seat.
● NY-19: Attorney Antonio Delgado won an expensive seven-way Democratic primary with 22 percent of the vote, while former Andrew Cuomo aide Gareth Rhodes and Army veteran Pat Ryan were not far behind with 18 percent each. Delgado will take on GOP Rep. John Faso in an Upper Hudson Valley seat that swung from 52-46 Obama to 51-44 Trump and often favors the GOP down the ballot.
Delgado, a Harvard Law graduate who once worked as music company executive in Los Angeles before returning to New York, has been a strong fundraiser, but Faso will also be well-funded. The House Leadership Fund and the NRCC have reserved a combined $2 million here to aid Faso; House Majority PAC has reserved $210,000 in the Albany media market, which covers part of this seat; they also have reservations in New York City that could be allocated between a number of seats, including this one. Daily Kos Elections rates this as Lean Republican.
● NY-21: Businesswoman Tedra Cobb, a former member of the St. Lawrence County Legislature, defeated former MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan 56-12 in the Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik. This seat, which includes the rural North Country along the Vermont border, swung from 52-46 Obama to 54-40 Trump, and it's another district where Team Red often does very well down the ballot. Cobb raised $360,000 after about 11 months of campaigning, but Stefanik is a strong fundraiser. Daily Kos Elections rates this contest as Safe Republican, but it might be worth keeping an eye on.
● NY-24: Party activist Dana Balter, a visiting assistant professor at Syracuse University, defeated former Syracuse corporation counsel Juanita Perez Williams 63-37 in the Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. John Katko. Perez Williams is the only the second candidate this cycle to lose a primary while being on the DCCC's Red to Blue list for top candidates (Nebraska's Brad Ashford was defeated in May by Kara Eastman).
Balter spent months in the race with little opposition, and she had the support of all four county Democratic parties. That changed in April when Perez Williams, who lost last year's general election for mayor of Syracuse, entered the race just before the filing deadline at the behest of the DCCC. However, Perez Williams had trouble raising money with so little time left on the clock, and Balter ran ads that quote a 2016 Facebook post from Perez Williams where she touted her "pro-life advocacy."
This seat went from 57-41 Obama to 49-45 Clinton, and Katko is going to be very tough to beat. The incumbent beat a touted Democratic candidate 60-39 even as Clinton was narrowly winning here, and he's another strong fundraiser. Balter brought in $303,000 from September through early June, and we'll see if her financial situation improves now that she's the nominee. Daily Kos Elections rates this contest as Likely Republican.
● NY-25: Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle defeated former TV reporter Rachel Barnhart 46-20 in the Democratic primary to succeed the late Rep. Louise Slaughter. Morelle had the backing of several of Slaughter's family members as well as much of the local Rochester political establishment.
The GOP is fielding Jim Maxwell, who served as chief of neurosurgery at Rochester General Hospital and had about $500,000 in the bank in early June thanks mostly to self-funding. Slaughter almost lost in a complete shock during the 2014 GOP wave, but this 56-39 Clinton seat is unlikely to go anywhere this cycle, and we rate it as Safe Democratic.
● OK-01: As we expected, the GOP primary for this safely red Tulsa seat will need to be settled in the Aug. 28 runoff. Former Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris, whose 16-year tenure was the longest in county history, took first place with 28 percent of the vote. Wealthy businessman Kevin Hern edged out former Army intelligence officer Andy Coleman, who had the support of the anti-tax Club for Growth and With Honor Fund, 22.7-21.9 for the second runoff spot; state Sen. Nathan Dahm was a tight fourth with 20.2 Hern decisively outspent the rest of the field during the first round, and he's likely to have a big financial edge over Harris.
Hern has made some enemies that could cause him problems, however, including former Rep. Jim Bridenstine, who resigned to lead NASA this year. A text message went out to the local media in the final week of the campaign from Bridenstine's personal phone claiming that Hern was improperly using the former congressman's image and name in his ads, The message went on to gripe that "[v]oters should know that Kevin Hern initiated a run against me in 2016 and poll tested messages that included terrible lies about me." The Club also used most of their ads to hit Hern rather than praise Coleman, so they may not stay neutral in round two.
● OK-02: GOP Rep. Markwayne Mullin's decision to disregard his 2012 pledge to only serve three terms seems to have hurt him with voters, but it wasn't quite enough to force him into a runoff. Mullin took 54 percent of the vote, just a little more than the majority he needed to win outright. Army veteran Jarrin Jackson took a distant second with 25 percent.
Last cycle, when Mullin started to back away from his old term-limit pledge, he defeated Jackson 62-38. Mullin's weak showing this year might inspire a stronger primary challenger in 2020, though the term-limits issue may be just old news by then. This rural eastern Oklahoma seat is ancestrally blue, but this 73-23 Trump district is unlikely to return to its roots anytime soon.
● SC-04: Wealthy state Sen. William Timmons beat former state Sen. Lee Bright 54-46 in the GOP primary runoff to succeed retiring Rep. Trey Gowdy. This Spartanburg-area seat, which backed Trump 60-34, is safely red.
Bright had the support of the Club for Growth, which ran ads charging that Timmons supported higher taxes, while the more establishment-aligned Conservative Leadership Alliance came to Timmons aid. Timmons argued that Bright, who among other things once proposed that South Carolina should issue its own currency and tried to pass a version of North Carolina's notorious bathroom bill, was too extreme for this seat. For the first time in a long time, this strategy actually worked in a GOP primary!
● UT-03: Rep. John Curtis won his GOP primary rematch with former state Rep. Chris Herrod 74-26; last year, Curtis won the primary 43-33 against Herrod in the special election to succeed Jason Chaffetz. This seat is safely red.